Title: Meatworks
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: July 3, 2014
Genre(s): Sci-fi
Page Count: 300
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Desmond Poole is damaged in more ways than one. If he was an underachiever before, he’s entirely useless now that he’s lost his right hand. He spends his time drowning his sorrows in vodka while he deliberately blows off the training that would help him master his new prosthetic. Social Services seems determined to try and stop him from wallowing in his own filth, so he’s forced to attend an amputee support group. He expects nothing more than stale cookies, tepid decaf and a bunch of self-pitying sob stories, so he’s blindsided when a fellow amputee catches his eye.

Corey Steiner is a hot young rudeboy who works his robotic limb like an extension of his own body, and he’s smitten by Desmond’s crusty punk rock charm from the get-go. Unfortunately, Desmond hasn’t quite severed ties with his ex-boyfriend, and Corey isn’t known for his maturity or patience.

Meatworks is set in a bleak near-future where cell phone and personal computer technologies never developed. In their place, robotics flourished. Now robots run everything from cars to coffee pots. Taking the guesswork out of menial tasks was intended to create leisure time, but instead robots have made society dependent and passive.

Desmond loathes robots and goes out of his way to avoid them. But can he survive without the robotic arm strapped to the end of his stump?

I don’t usually do sci-fi, and I don’t pick up books where the romance isn’t in the forefront of the story easily. But this…This floored me. I had never read Jordan Castillo Price before and I can now join the flanks of loyal admirers/stalkers. Boy can she write. Solid, flowing, writing. The story reads like a contemporary for the most part, except for the robotics technology aspect of it. It truly is all about Desmond and his trouble accepting life with a robotic arm.

Desmond is a first class loser. He is a lazy, low-expectation ass. He doesn’t care much about anything, really, except for having vodka, cigarettes, and his welfare check. I still don’t understand why I became so invested in reading about a grade A low-life like Desmond. But I did. From the very beginning, JCP wrote this novel as if she opened a freaking window into this character’s brain and everything spilled out. Every shameful, unflattering, even illegal thing he thought or did was right there for the reader to see. And I loved every single minute of reading about it because it was real. Sure, I enjoy reading about perfect characters as much as the next person. I enjoy reading about flawed characters who find their path to perfection by the end of the book even more. But Desmond didn’t become a perfect character by the end of the book. He was still pretty much a loser but with a greater degree of self-awareness than before and perhaps a bit more acceptance about who he is and where he can go in life. If Desmond had received a personality transplant by the end, I think I’d be pissed. Because if you think about it, it wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t be fair to Jim, Desmond’s ex-boyfriend who put up with so much shit to help Desmond out any way he could, and it wouldn’t be fair to every other good character I’ve ever read about. People like Desmond exist, and smoothing out their rough edges by making them cookie-cutter heroes for the sake of an HEA doesn’t do them justice. Not that Desmond didn’t get a happy ending, he did. He got to live with the choices he made and he was content with them. And I was pretty happy having read his story because in terms of character development, fucking hell, it rocked!

Don’t read this if you’re looking for a traditional romance. It’s not.

There are a few romantic interests and some sex scenes because Desmond is going back and forth pretty much throughout the book about who he wants to be with, but it’s not the focus of the story. For fans of slower-paced character novels, this will be a good treat.

Highly recommended!

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